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Becoming Two-Spirit: Gay Identity and Social Acceptance in Indian Country Paperback – October 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian Joseph Gilley is an Associate Proessor of Anthropology and the Director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center at Indiana University Bloomington.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803271263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803271265
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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The only reason why I'm bringing this up first is because he starts the book this way. The text begins with the author saying that he's straight. He noted that many proof-readers and Two-Spirit men themselves were skeptical of that claim, but others said his sexual orientation gives gay studies legitimacy and that he'll be viewed as "objective" unlike what would be supposed of gay researchers. I am surprised that while he goes out of his way to declare his heterosexuality, he never says anything about his whiteness. Like almost all Two-Spirit books, this one was written by a Caucasian person. (Others include Walter Williams, Lester Brown, Sabine Lang, Will Roscoe, and the list goes on.) I don't know why the author feels that his sexual orientation stands out, but his race doesn't. Some Indians, of all sexualities, have said, "Don't send us your anthropologists!" I highly doubt that Two-Spirits thought nothing of his race, but only of his sexual identity. The author really needs to freshen up on books being written about whiteness and white privilege.

The most powerful impression this book left upon me is that Two-Spiritedness concerns action and not just labeling. Previously, I thought any gay person with some Native ancestry could call themselves Two-Spirit. This book, however, talks of how a legitimate Two-Spirit person would learn of their tribe's customs and dedicate themselves to helping others in the tribe. This promotion of communal action will impress Native heterosexuals, I imagine.

This book touches upon many issues that non-Native gay men and lesbians of color face.
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By apmxtd on September 30, 2013
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eh
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By Hon B. on November 3, 2014
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great book thanks
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This is a much needed contribution to ethnography: contemporary Native American people, and especially Native American queers, are in need of better representation, and this work fills a clear gap. I can't help but thinking, though, that this work could have been handled much better. Gilley, in most of the text, clearly conflates Two-Spiritedness and gayness. (Two Spirit seems to be the combination of "Native" and "gay," and nothing more, invisibilizing polysexual and trans* individuals who may identify as Two-Spirit.) Bi-erasure is a theme in this book: When he initially introduces one of the Two-Spirit societies he studied with, he says it consists of gay and bisexual men. Every instance thereafter, the group consistently becomes "gay men," effectively erasing any bisexual man who may have been present. Diversity is further erased as Gilley refuses to identify the importance of tribal background to Native culture, creating a generic, unified Native culture.

Again, the core content of the book gives an uncommon view of queer Native life; I just wish it had been handled a touch more delicately.
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I like this book. Another perspective of understanding people who identify with the gay sexualitys
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